While cities up and down the North Coast celebrated the Fourth of July with the traditional parades and firework shows, Seaside’s own festivities were topped with another special event presented each year by the Seaside Museum and Historical Society.
Featuring live music, a cakewalk, bingo, and carnival games, the museum’s Old Fashioned Social has been a staple of the community’s Independence Day activities since 1987.
“It’s part of Seaside,” said Steve Wright, president of the museum’s board. “It’s a tradition, no doubt for us, but also for families.”
Ken Heman, a former museum board member who has volunteered with the festival for three years, agreed.
“As soon as the parade is over, it just seems to be the destination everybody hits,” he said.
Good, old-fashioned fun
During the event, the museum’s grounds, including Butterfield Cottage, were permeated with revelers, many bearing splashes of red, white and blue and other patriotic symbols. While the regional music group Five Over Fifty played classics from the porch of the cottage, the smell of grilled hotdogs and hamburgers wafted through the air. Vendors also served crab cakes, clam chowder, strawberry shortcake, and pie. Inside the cottage, people could place their bid in the silent auction for about 200 items donated by community merchants and individuals.
One of the event highlights continues to be the cakewalk, which runs throughout the entire event. Hundreds of individuals take a turn — or sometimes multiple turns — trying to win one of the 100 decorated cakes donated by Safeway. This year, social-goers entered the cakewalk more than 1,000 times collectively, Wright said, adding for some people, “It’s almost a tradition that you won’t leave unless you take a cake with you.”
Heman especially appreciates “the energy” that builds during the holiday event, he said, adding, “It’s kind of hard to be in a bad mood on the Fourth of July.”
The carnival games also encompass a sweet simplicity that, for many, harken back to their childhood years. Kids, and many adults, spent the afternoon getting their faces painted, “fishing” for prizes, and tossing bean bags. For Heman and other volunteers, there is joy in “watching the kids, seeing their faces, their reaction to things as simple as throwing a string over a wall,” he said.
Between setup, running the event, and tear down, putting on the social relies on participation from numerous volunteers, including board and community members. According to Wright, they had a married couple who used to own a home in Seaside but have since moved to Portland return to volunteer for the social.
In general, he said, the event not only serves as a fundraiser but also helps bring awareness to Seaside’s museum and what it offers for the public.
An eventful holiday
As a holiday, the Fourth of July is significant for the city of Seaside, in terms of the crowd it brings to town and the cooperation it takes from various agencies and organizations to help the day run smoothly. The Fourth of July parade and fireworks show on the beach are the other two main activities that take place on the holiday each year.
The parade — which was organized this year by the Seaside Chamber of Commerce —involved its typical collection of participants. Fire trucks and ambulances were interspersed with vehicles carrying representatives from local businesses and organizations, including the museum, the Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District, Wheel Fun Rentals, Miss Tami’s Daycare & Preschool, Providence Seaside Hospital, Avamere at Seaside, Neawanna by the Sea, the Astor Street Opry Company, and NW Community Alliance, and others.
Spectators lined the sidewalks along Holladay Drive, Broadway, and Columbia Street to wave at parade participants as they passed by and to collect the candy and other goodies distributed along the route. The parade also is a chance for community members to see and socialize with their family, friends, and neighbors.
“That’s what it’s more about for me,” Heman said, “The hanging out and being together.”